John Lester Barstow to Laura

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Head Quarters 8th Regt. Vt. Vols.District of the TecheIn the FeildNov. 23 1862Dear Laura

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I am still on the banks of the Bayon [      ], where I was, where I wrote you last. - it is 1/2 past 3-o-clock in the morning, last night was about the coldest night we have had - & I have stood it as long as I could - told the negro, to make a fire - and I have seated myself to write you a letter. Since we came here the Regiment has been pretty nearly idle - no Drills - no inspection or any thing of that sory - nothing has been kept up, except guard mounting and dress - parade - the reason for this is because the officers are so busy with other matters. The government has taken possession of all the private & property in the distinct lying between where we now are,and where we were, and nearly every officer who is considered competent, is hard at work in trying to get the sugar mills on the different plantations at work - the cane, which, if it had been ground earlier, would have made 3 nnds. pr. acre is now so injured by frost that it will not average more than one half that amount. Still

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if it can be ground now, it will be a source of great profit to the government - the negroes are paid 10$ a month - the mules &c are used - an over seen hired & furnished with oil for the engine, & food for the men (used to be slaves) & Uncle Sam takes the sugar & molasses - wherever a man has stayed at home, he takes the oath, & goes on with his business, as usual, except that he has to pay his men. It is an operation well worth seeing - to see this sugar making - it is, or has been the most profitable business in the world, but I hope its day is gone, so far as getting labor for nothing is concerned. We find all along here, what would be called distress with us. The richest planters have had no tea or coffe for over a year - when any poor coffe has been brought here it sold for $8. a pound - a man who is good times was worth over $300,000 - told me yestarday, that about 6 months ago he paid $35. for 100lbs of flour - but it was so poor he could not use it - & has had none since. They have no Salt & cannot save their Pork or Beef only to eat it fresh, which they got so sick of - without Salt, that it was almost impossible to eat it, & in fact it did produce disease in many locations - They are partly re-